Tapes scandal in Poland - summary and analysis (June 17th 2014)

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Summary and analysis related to the June 2014 "tape scandal", when Wprost weekly published secretely recorded discussions of minister of interior with head of National Bank of Poland. …

Summary and analysis related to the June 2014 "tape scandal", when Wprost weekly published secretely recorded discussions of minister of interior with head of National Bank of Poland.

The analysis is based on facts known on June 17th 2014.

More in: News & Politics
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  • 1. Domaniewska 42 02-672 Warsaw, Poland T: +48 (22) 278 38 00 F: +48 (22) 278 38 75 “Tapes scandal” in Poland June 17th 2014 “Wprost” weekly published a summary (and partial transcription) of two secretly recorded private conversations between: 1. Marek Belka (head of National Bank of Poland) and Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (Minister of the Interior) 2. Sławomir Nowak (former PM Donald Tusk’s chief of staff, discredited after he had not disclosed an expensive watch in the material benefits report) and Andrzej Parafinowicz (former Deputy Minister of Finance) Additionally, the existence of other recordings is also possible: of Elżbieta Bieńkowska (Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development) with the head of Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (Paweł Wojtunik), and of Jan Kulczyk (reachest Pole) with Krzysztof Kwiatkowski (head of National Chamber of Audit). Summary: At the beginning, all media and politicians quoted Mr Sienkiewicz saying “Polish state does not exist”, with no other details. It resulted in a call for the whole government’s resignation, attack of right-wing journalists, etc. Soon, the whole quote was provided: “Polish state exists only theoretically, in practice it does not work, as it works only fragmentarily and does not understand that the state should act as a whole”. The Sienkiewicz – Belka discussion focused on Polish policy and whether the National Bank of Poland has tools – and will – to support Polish economy, as “if Law and Justice wins next election, investors would run away”. Mr Belka responded, among others, that the main opponent of such actions might be then-minister of finance, Jan Vincent-Rostowski. According to main opposition politicians, the discussion is a violation of the National Bank of Poland’s independence and as the result, both the government and the head of NBP should leave their posts.
  • 2. Domaniewska 42 02-672 Warsaw, Poland T: +48 (22) 278 38 00 F: +48 (22) 278 38 75 The second conversation (Nowak-Parafinowicz) focused mainly of Nowak’s problems with tax control with Mr Nowak looking for ways of avoiding it. On Monday, PM Donald Tusk announced that: 1. Mr Nowak and Mr Parafinowicz are private persons and there is no place in politics for them. Mr Nowak is no longer a member of the ruling party Civic Platform. 2. Mr Sienkiewicz and Mr Belka, using the not-politically-correct language, were discussing issues important for the state. There is nothing but the language that anyone should apologize for. 3. Making and disclosing the recordings is an attempt of coup d’état and a violation of all laws. 4. Nobody will be dismissed. 5. If the opposition wants to dismiss the government, they must be aware that they are playing the game planned by someone else. Mr Sienkiewicz later said that he now wants to focus on finding those responsible for the illegal recordings and it is his last task as a minister adding that Donald Tusk will decide about his political future. Consequences: Short-term: Slight, short-term loss of government’s popularity, possibly – in a few months - change on the position of the minister of the interior. Long-term: The history of previous “tape scandals” (Mr Sawicki, Glapiński-Beger, etc.) and their influence on society suggest that in just a few weeks the case will become a non-issue for an average Pole. The recordings will be used by the opposition in the election campaign as a proof of
  • 3. Domaniewska 42 02-672 Warsaw, Poland T: +48 (22) 278 38 00 F: +48 (22) 278 38 75 secret talks aiming at breaching the Constitution by Civic Platform, with no major effect of the final outcome. The more visible effect might be the reform of the Polish secret services that were unable to prevent the recording (even though the VIP room in the restaurant where the conversations were recorded was checked by secret service officers) and – in a few months – possible change on the position of the minister of the interior. Also increased significance of the Polish People’s Party (PSL) – the smaller coalition partner – is expected, as votes of PSL members are required to keep the power by PO-PSL government. It is also possible that the left-wing Democratic Left Alliance (SLD, the party that might become the coalition partner of PO-PSL after 2015 parliamentary elections) might start negotiating its future position. So far, SLD has asked Donald Tusk to call for a “vote of confidence” for his government. To pass the vote, the government must receive over 50% of all votes in the presence of at least half of MPs. The ruling coalition has 234 (202+32) deputies (460 MPs total). In order to have a safety margin during the confidence vote (some coalition members may be absent during the plenary vote), the support of SLD may be required. It must be underlined that new tapes, if published, may contain additional controversial details that might change the situation completely. In case of additional questions, please contact: Łukasz Jachowicz, Head of Public Affairs Lukasz.Jachowicz@mslgroup.com